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UAE envoy says Israel postponed West Bank annexation for normalisation deal

September 28, 2020 at 9:48 am

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) speaks with the Emirati Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba at the NYU Abu Dhabi campus in Abu Dhabi on 13 January 2019. [ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images]

The UAE’s Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al-Otaiba, claimed that his country has stipulated that Israel postpones its plans to annex large areas of the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, for a long time before it signed the normalisation agreement with the occupation state, Israeli Maariv newspaper reported.

According to the paper, Al-Otaiba explained that Abu Dhabi also stipulated that the postponement period shall not be revealed.

“I am convinced that the annexation is not on the table for a long time, and this is the agreement that we reached with Israel, and we made it clear to the United States that we want to conceal the time period that we agreed upon,” he added.

Al-Otaiba said the Israelis will see the benefits of the agreements in the near future, but the annexation will not be part of them.

“After about a week of the agreement, we saw that 80 per cent of the Israelis support it, even though it comes at the expense of the annexation plan.” he added.

Al-Otaiba criticised the Palestinian response to normalisation, saying: “It is ironic that the Palestinians feel betrayed, after the signing, when in reality, they should be happy because this is what prevented the annexation.”

READ: UAE poet barred from travel for rejecting Israel deal 

On 13 August, US President Donald Trump announced a peace deal between the UAE and Israel brokered by Washington.

Abu Dhabi said the deal was an effort to stave off Tel Aviv’s planned annexation of the occupied West Bank, however, opponents believe normalisation efforts have been in the offing for many years as Israeli officials have made official visits to the UAE and attended conferences in the country which had no diplomatic or other ties with the occupation state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu however denied this saying annexation is not off the table, but has simply been delayed.

Last Wednesday, US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, told the Jerusalem Post that the postponement of the Israeli annexation plan does not mean it has been cancelled.